Mola Mola Tambaqui Roon vs Separate Streamers

I'm currently using my Mola Mola Tambaqui with Roon streaming Tidal.

Has anyone added a separate streamer such as the Auralic Aries G2/2.1 or the Lumin U1?  If so, was differences did you hear with the streamer addition?  Is it worthwhile?  

I'd love to hear feedback from other Tambaqui owners.



I currently have a neglected digital side.  I have a Lumin U1X streamer I like very much and (I think) is pretty comparable to other streamers.  I use the DAC on my Esoteric K-03XD (a really nice TEAC transport).  The DAC is nice, equal to most all the other Esoteric stand alone DACs, but I'd like to step it up.

Debating between the Tambaqui and the dCS Vivaldi Apex.

Does anyone know if the Lumin U1X would be acceptable with the Tambaqui?

Hi @davetheoilguy , I have a Tambaqui and have use it with Network, USB and AES inputs.  All work well.  Some streamers are optimized one way or the other.  For me, AES works best with my Grimm MU1 streamer and is a match made in Audiophile Heaven.

@davetheoilguy - I have a Lumin U1X in another system that I added to my system with the Mola Mola Kula which includes the Tambaqui module.  Although I noticed an improvement in the imaging and possibly width of the soundstage, the upgrade from the internal Tambaqui streamer wasn't enough for me to keep the U1X in my Mola Mola system.  I've since put the U1X back in the other system where it pairs fantastically with a Holo Audio May KTE DAC.

I'm still looking for a better streamer match for the Mola Mola and am considering a Grimm MU1 next year.  I love the Lumin products, but the Lumin house sound wasn't a great compliment to the Mola Mola (for me) and the quality of the Mola Mola streamer was better than I was anticipating.


Thank you.  I’m kind of doing the reverse search — finding the DAC that will match of with my Lumin U1x.  I have Tidal and everything all set there and don’t feel like reinventing my playlists outside of the Lumin software.

i wonder if the dcs Vivaldi apex would be a better choice.


what specifically about the Lumin U1x/Tabaqui combo was not ideal?  I understand both to be on the analytical side.  I’m actually OK with this bc my preamp is Nagra HD pre which is extremely precise and fast but also warm. 

The best advice I can give is to try the U1X with another DAC and then you can more readily identify the Lumin sound. For me, it added too much coloration to the sound of the Mola Mola to my liking.  This description likely isn’t helpful, but I would describe the Lumin as sort of a laser like sound which was too much of a contrast to the more neutral Mola Mola presentation.

I don’t have any in-depth experience with the DCS DACs, so I can’t comment on them here. I will reiterate how much I love the U1X with the Holo Audio May KTE DAC. Both the May and the Tambaqui have excellent imaging, with the May being slightly softer and warmer in presentation. For whatever reason, that combination works in that system to my ears.

@saurabhgarg The Tambaqui is a “zippy” DAC in my experience, and I’ve found it fatiguing in some configurations. Have you played with the voltage settings? If you increase the voltage to 4 or 5V output, some of that fatigue may go away. 

Using a dedicated streamer instead of the one built in will also help, in my opinion, as well as good cabling. Feel free to PM me and I’d be happy to provide additional guidance. 

@davetheoilguy Lumin has a slightly more detailed/analytical sound, so you should be looking potentially at more harmonically rich DACs. I am an authorized T+A dealer, so take this with a grain of salt, but if you’re looking at the DCS Vivaldi Apex, one unit to consider is the T+A PSD 3100 HV. It does have the preamp built in as well, but for MSRP $22K, the quality of its DAC nears the $39K reference SDV 3100 HV. T+A HV Series DACs are well known for their harmonics and organic presentation and are denser/richer with improved effortlessness, decay and air compared to their renowned DAC 200. 

Other DAC brands to consider may be EMM and MSB. 

@blisshifi I changed the stock cables to AQ hurricanes and added a power conditioner. Also, changed from RCA to a really nice XLR intercomnects. That has definitely helped with the harshness. I am getting more fuller and bolder sound with all the separation etc. So far I really like this N20/Tambaqui combo. 

I will play around with the voltage setting. DAC is feeding to Luxman 509z. Not sure wif the amp matters for different voltage outputs. 

@saurabhgarg That’s great to hear! And the N20 is a wonderful streamer to pair with the Tambaqui as well - it’s very tonally rich for a streamer.

Let us know what you find with the voltage settings. In most cases a higher voltage of 4V or 5V won’t clip, overload or distort, but you should be able to switch through them easily and choose the one that pairs best with your amp. 



Lumin has a slightly more detailed/analytical sound, so you should be looking potentially at more harmonically rich DACs. I am an authorized T+A dealer, so take this with a grain of salt, but if you’re looking at the DCS Vivaldi Apex, one unit to consider is the T+A PSD 3100 HV.

Thank you for the post.  I looked pretty hard at the T+A SD 3100 HV, but never tried it, due to not knowing where to find one to listen to.  (Or, more accurately, not being able to figure out how to get to a place to go listen to one.)  So I may need to hunt you down.  I'm not in a hurry, as the Esoteric DAC is not offensive, at all.  Is that also a good choice among the TA line?

When you say "more harmonically rich DAC", what do you think (and I know I'm asking about a competitor) about the Nagra HD DAC X?  I am just flat in love with my Nagra HD pre, and the scant reviews of the Nagra DACX are good, but there is little technical information about the DAC itself.  It looks like an exceptionally fantastic power supply and "analog side", but the actual DAC looks to be a pretty off-the-shelf (albeit very nicely done) FPGA, just based on how little anyone talks about it.

@davetheoilguy The SD 3100 HV is T+A’s reference level standalone DAC with streamer, which will save you $3K or so if you don’t need the preamp in the SDV 3100 HV. That said, the preamp in the SDV is a performance equivalent of T+A’s $23K reference preamp, but the SDV has less ins and outs. You may be able to get farther if you were open to trading / selling your preamp and cables and jumping to the SDV instead, but in either way, both the SD and SDV are amongst the best DACs I’ve ever heard. The built in streamers are also very good and approach the quality of my Aurender N30SA (not quite, but close), so you may not even need the Lumin. 

I have very limited experience with Nagra, unfortunately. I have a client with the Nagra CD player with a built in DAC (not a higher level one), and it sounds decent. Unfortunately Nagra is a brand that doesn’t appear much at shows, and I haven’t yet had a client trade in a Nagra such that I could demo one. There is also a dealer not too far from me that sells Nagra, so it’s not a brand I can take on. Maybe it’s a good thing that they don’t get traded often, though I also don’t know many people who own their digital equipment. I know the reel to reel and amps are more common. 



Nagra DACs get PlayBack Designs digital boards. They also do not get the best PBD boards. Those are saved for the cheaper PBD DACs (relative to Nagra). I read this in an interview with the PBD designer Andreas Koch.


Nagra DACs get PlayBack Designs digital boards. They also do not get the best PBD boards. Those are saved for the cheaper PBD DACs (relative to Nagra). I

That wouldn’t surprise me at all.  Although, looking at the specs (on a phone), I think (“think” being the key word here, not “know”) this refers to the old Nagra DAC, not the DAC X.  The DAC X has a FPGA of unknown origin, spec’d and programmed to Nagra’s design.  That could be PBD, but it doesn’t look to be on the surface.

still the FPGA is not how you’d think they would design a world class DAC, which is both of our’s ultimate point.

what is surprising is the Nagra IS world class and sounds awesome and is consistently ranked in the top contenders of DACS in pretty well thought out shoot outs by very disparate reviewers and sophisticated users.  The top several are almost always (in no particular order) :   An MBS; one of the top dCS (Bartok or Vivaldi), the Mola Tambqui (which comes in at a fraction of the price of the others), the Nagra HD DAC X, and then the fifth spot more variable.

missing from the “top” lists I note are some of the most expensive, such as WaDax Reference or Atlantis.  So it’s not just a price list.

And the Nagra gets its sound from the expensive components:  32 (or something) independent power supplies, true dual mono set up, literal hand made custom transformers, etc thst take the fragile converted analog signal and pass it on.

All while using spectacularly implemented, very nice, but otherwise unremarkable digital conversion.

While the others use exceptional and novel digital conversion (eg especially the Tambaqui) to get similar results.

If Nagra could license the Tambaqui (or similar) tech, stick two of these superior digital front ends into its dual mono design and stunning analog side, it would have something that is the unquestionable market crusher.

But alas.

The FPGA based DAC was first created by Andreas Koch at Playback Designs. Everyone else is following his coattails. Nagra decided to just buy the boards from PBD instead of creating their own, such as PS Audio (Ted Smith). I read somewhere that Ted spent time with Andreas to learn how to do FPGA.

These 2 videos are informative on the history of digital.

E89: Andreas Koch and Digital Recording (

E93: More with Andreas Koch! (

I think doing digital correctly is complicated and I question the credentials of almost every company charging an arm and a leg for their DACs. At least with Andreas I can justify paying for his knowledge.

One reason I bought the Schitt Yggi+ LIM and the OG was because of the long digital history of the designer, Mike Moffat.

I will get one more DAC in the future and that will be either a PBD or Rockna, because of the designers.

BTW - the implementation of the Tambaqui was first done around 2006 by Bruno P. This was for the Makua preamp’s optional DAC module. The Tambaqui was the result of customers asking for an external DAC.

There was in interview on ASR web site were Bruno said this


good stuff @yyzsantabarbara ! Thanks.

What do you know of the new products by Master Fidelity, the Nadac D and Nadac C?  Reviews are over the top.

@fastfreight I have not heard anything about those 2 new DACs. Now I have something to read while I waste time at work.


Very interesting history.  I use FPGA chips (maybe even the same chips; that's how flexible they are) in certain industrial applications related to the oil field. They are great for small scale production because you can use the same chip lots of different ways and (as the "field" part says) alter them for bugs on the fly even after deployment.  Very useful for prototypes, too.  This is why a lot of high end audio people use them -- there are just not that many units being sold, so a custom-designed chip is not practical.

The problem with them, however, is they are general purpose.  It's like a a really good adjustable crescent wrench. It's excellent and can be used for whatever, but just isn't as good as a wrench or ratchet just for that particular bolt.

I'm not joking that I probably use the same exact chipset in a giant rotary directional drill that is used in a nuclear missile, the Nagra HD DAC X, a Lamborghini, and your favorite bespoke DAC.

They are also energy hogs, hot, and (with some exceptions) very electronically noisy.  All that can be compensated for, but can poise problems on implementation, especially in audio equipment.

Anyway, long way of saying, all things being equal, I'd take a custom chipset over a FPGA set, any day -- assuming I have a chip set that fits my bolt, so to speak (which is a giant assumption, as that may not be practical when you make 100 units of something).